A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

Have you seen the smile on the face of a father when he holds his baby son? . . . the solemn, tender faces of a bride and groom as they vow to love each other “as long as we both shall live”? . . . the grieving, loving face of an old man leaning over the casket of his wife and saying his last farewell?

So what do you imagine when you think of God’s eyes on you? Do you see God’s holy, loving smile looking down on you? Or do you think of Him as a stern, hard to please, eager to punish taskmaster?

The cartoonists of the Frank and Ernest cartoons sometimes draw God, our holy Creator of the universe, as an ugly, demented, calloused form of Frank and Ernest themselves. “If God exists in Frank’s and Ernest’s Fluffy Cloud Heaven,” says TVTropes.org, “he’s a giant white-haired, bearded man wandering around. . . . St. Peter acts as a bouncer. He’ll read his book about all the naughty and nice things someone has done, and then either let them in or send them to Hell via a trapdoor.”

Sadly, many really good Christians, and perhaps you too, tend to think of God as glaring over the battlements of Heaven with a big 2X4, hoping to catch somebody doing something wrong so He can give them a mighty wallop.

But this week I glimpsed again, as I read in my daily Bible reading, how God really feels about us when He looks down on us. Here’s the benediction, the blessing, God commanded His servants to give to His children:

May the LORD bless you and protect you.
May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the LORD show you His favor
and give you His peace. . Numbers 6:24-26

What a contrast that is to what we too often expect of God. We are blessed. Protected. Smiled upon. Given grace. Quieted with peace. The NKJV translates the phrase, “May the Lord smile on you” as “The LORD make His face shine upon you.” We expected condemnation and punishment from our holy God. Instead, when we look into His face, we see Jesus, the Light, overcoming our fears, our darkness.

Why don’t we realize how loving our God is, first to give us forgiveness of our sins at no cost to us, but at terrible cost to Himself, and then shower us with all the treasures of Heaven? Why? Because, as the Apostle Paul says, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known (1 Corinthians 13:12). If we could see His dear face, we would know how much He loves us and wants us to be with Him.

Someone might ask, “But where is the incentive to do right and avoid sin, if we believe He really loves us that much?” Easy answer! When we realize how much He loves us, surely our hearts will respond with love and gratitude. Love compels us to say, “I delight to do your will, O my God, And your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8).

Your throne, O God, is founded on two strong pillars–
righteousness and justice.
Unfailing love and truth walk before You as attendants.
Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship,
For they will walk in the light of your presence, LORD. (Psalm 89:14,15)

If only you could see His face, you would know how much He loves you.